“Auto Express won Consumer Automotive Publication of the Year. But why wouldn’t it be?

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Crikey, I felt like a good ol’ dude – a sort of poor man’s Al Pacino – at last week’s Newspress awards. I’m talking here about one of the events of the automotive year – the “Oscars” of automotive journalism and broadcasting, with only VIPs on the guest list.

Despite this, I made my way. And drawing on decades of experience at such events (and no successful awards, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit), I did all my usual things: I sat at a celebrity-free table at back of the lavish room; I found a faithful companion/colleague/guardian to sit beside me and support me; and I quietly informed the sommelier that at my age and condition I sincerely prefer a cup of hot cocoa to the more usual glass of chilled champagne.

One of the youngest and most talented guys in the room, and nominated for the Automotive Journalist of the Year award, was our very own Tristan Shale-Hester, who is only 24 – soon to be 47! Unfortunately he did not collect the trophy on this occasion but as I assured him on the bittersweet night he will in the future as time is very important to him and that is a extremely gifted master of words. Ditto for Dean Gibson (more than 47 in progress out of 24), who was nominated in the Commercial Vehicle Writer category. He also narrowly missed an outright win in this highly competitive class. But despite everything, Tristan and Dean could and should be extremely proud to achieve runners-up medals for themselves, as well as for their magazine and website in 2022.

Speaking of which, Auto Express took home the award for Consumer Automotive Publication of the Year. But, I mean, why wouldn’t he? And it gets even better, as sister title DrivingElectric’s Ellis Hyde won the Automotive Rising Star award, while its editor, Richard Ingram, knocked out a reporter from a national newspaper or three to snatch the EV Writer trophy. “He nearly swept the board in terms of the judges’ votes,” Newspress confessed. I think that’s what’s called in the trade an overall win.

Which should not be confused with a victory that was, and still is, incomprehensible. I’m talking about the final award of the night here – an award in which the judges kept talking about a type of scribbler/broadcaster who is a “great automotive journalist, always lively, always enthusiastic, but pragmatic, with a depth an industry knowledge that others can only dream of.

More praise poured in – I heard everything from “informed opinions” to “unquestionable integrity”. Alright, we have the picture, I thought. But before I could cynically whisper to my fellow guard seated next to me that I didn’t much like the sound of the mysterious radio and TV reporter in question, the drumbeat started, the lights went out and the MC announced :

“The Newspress Lifetime Achievement Award goes to…Mike Rutherford.” Not a word of lie, I almost choked on my cup of cocoa.

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